Hiking Mount Tamalpais

After traveling for over three weeks for the month of March, you would've expected me to hurry home to enjoy a little rest and relaxation before kicking off April, right? The hurry part I did, driving as far as I could Friday night from Los Angeles and stopping at a hotel for a few hours, before continuing on the last 150 miles on Saturday morning to San Francisco. But when I arrived at the car rental place on Saturday morning at 12:15 to find out that it closed at 12, the only sensible thing to do was then to turn around and go for another drive, right?

At least this drive was just over the Golden Gate Bridge to Mt. Tamalpais in the Marin Hills. On paper, Mt. Tamalpais, or Mt. Tam as locals call it, is nothing special. It has an elevation of just over 2,500 feet and is one of many peaks along the Northern California coastline. However, what I love is its diversity. I've now been to Mount Tam several times, and each time I uncover a new hike or scenic view I hadn't seen the last time. It takes all of my favorite parts of hiking and combines them into one experience: Coastline, rugged cliffs, rolling grasslands, scenic overlooks, and waterfalls. However, you can't just pull off at the first stop, otherwise you'll miss so many other trails and scenic views. My recommendation is to keep driving all the way to the top and then drive back down and stop at a couple of the trails that interest you the most.

As I mentioned, every time I visit Mt. Tam I discover something new. What I discovered on this trip came about halfway into my hike. I had found a valley in the grassland that provided a beautiful view overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco in the far distance. As I was setting up my camera and tripod, I noticed 20 yards ahead of me, a cute four-legged furry animal appear, that I just assumed was a hiker's dog that had run ahead of them. However, as it trotted a few steps toward me, I realized that this "cute dog" wasn't in fact a dog, but rather a coyote. It was at that point that Coyote Cutie, as we'll call him, challenged me to a staring contest, of which I outright won in just a few seconds and Coyote Cutie disappeared over the ridge in defeat.

And it's for my experience with Coyote Cutie and every visit to Mount Tam, that I just keep coming back. People often ask me if I ever travel to the same place. My answer is often that it's rare, but if a place is captivating and alluring enough, I certainly will. Mount Tamalpais is one of those places for me.

What's an attraction or landmark that has captivated you?